To Do Something That Matters

From the Stage to the Roller Derby

By Jana Prager

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S.C. Lucier wears many hats: director, stage manager, carpenter, maker, and backstage warrior are just a few. Lucier is also a queer woman who unapologetically marches to the beat of her own drum. She has brought a lot to the table throughout her theatrical career and is continuing to push her work forward into a socio-politically conscious world with fewer boundaries by asking herself how she can continue to educate others on her world-view. In addition to the many things Lucier does (which somehow still includes sleep), is also a 4-year member and current captain of Gotham Girls Roller Derby which has been able to impact her life and work greatly since joining.  

I think it goes without saying that Lucier has successfully done just that by taking part in the creation of a world she wants to see, a stronger queer and human community through both her work and her daily life. It’s also very clear that she is succeeding in said childhood goal, “ to do something that mattered”.

TiLLT: Does your queerness have an affect on your work?

S.C: It has to. When an artist has a unique worldview, they also have an obligation to critically analyze the work they are making in a way that other people won’t be able to do.

TiLLT: Often when people are a part of an underrepresented or oppressed group and are also artists, their work is automatically associated with that categorization or oppression. Do you think that your identification with queerness inspires or elevates your work? Sometimes does that label pressure you?

S.C: I don’t find it pressuring. I almost feel like I have no stakes in the game. I have nothing to lose or gain because my entire life already operates outside of the heteronormative standard. I hope that that the lack of any kind of feeling of obligation helps to broaden my work. I mean I’m sure that everybody’s worldview constricts their work in some way and as artists we try to keep ourselves open. The more we open the more we can incorporate other people, and that is what makes strong and relatable art.

TiLLT: What is one of the upcoming projects you have that you’re excited about?

S.C: I’m actually really excited about my upcoming Shakespeare in the Park production because I am directing Henry IV Pt. I. It’s a really wonderful and amazing program that takes free Shakespeare in the Park to all of the areas of Queens that would otherwise never really see it. It’s called Hip to Hip. I was with them a couple of years ago and one of the reasons I’m back is because it’s Henry IV Pt. I and not only does that play deal with a lot of issues that I think are really important to examine right now; it’s all about honor and brotherhood and friendship man to man. There is a lot of broken and hurting masculinity and masculine energy in the world right now so this concept of male friendship and what it means to be honorable is going to be really amazing to tackle. Also, what's really cool is that Prince Hal is being played by their leading female which adds this whole extra layer to it and it’s really great because Prince Hal is someone who is ditching his royal obligations and just wants to hang out with his friends at the pub and in the end, he ends up having to lead people to war. For me, especially as someone who plays a really highly competitive sport that's full of aggression, we don't really see or foster female aggression in a lot of ways. I have a lot to dig into, so I’m really excited about that process.

TiLLT: Is gender a factor in your art?

S.C: I try to think that humans are humans. Obviously we have a long history as human beings that show you, that's not how our society has worked. It's difficult to avoid. Even now I cannot watch I Love Lucy anymore, it’s just painful; but it is good to see how dated things are, even decades ago. You can watch your favorite movie from the 90’s and be mortified that you ever liked that movie. Now, I’m not sure if it’s conscious or not in my work.

A lot of my inspiration comes from very strong female characters, and I’m not quite sure I know what that means. When I look at things that way, I tend to look at characters from a place of strength and a place of facing adversity.

All of that history and the depth of it that I feel as female, naturally develops something particular in the process. In the same vain, you know, the villain should never think she or he is the villain and so we should always be attempting to work out male roles to their most compassionate capacity because why wouldn’t we want to make things better?

TiLLT: So would you say that you aim to sometimes project the world that you’re hoping to create?

S.C: A lot of time there’s no room for that, unfortunately; that may be what the problem is. Let me tell you, the piece that I did at the NYC Fringe Festival, HELD: A Musical Fantasy, what I loved about that show was that it was two females and a male made up the entire cast. One female was the lead conjurer, the other female was the head of the army in that area, and the male was a baker. It was just really nice because there was absolutely no gender issue. It was a female produced show (myself, Meghan Rose and Kelly Maxwell) and there was an article written early on about how it was one of the “feminist watches” going into the Fringe. I was like “oh great” but also I don’t think any of us even thought about that.

TiLLT: In terms of your involvement with roller derby, what is it like to be a part of the team full of other strong women and how has it affected you?

S.C: Well, I go to a meeting but they hit me at full speed three times a week...in a very friendly way! Often society asks women to be everything. They ask us to be strong but not too strong. They ask us to be well spoken and smart but not too smart. It’s a very fine line and it can often feel like you’re never quite right. And I think that’s the goal of society to make women feel that way. So it is really great to be surrounded by women who take that measuring stick and break it over their knee. That duality is really perfectly exemplified in roller derby. Before we play, some of us all sit together and we put our makeup on - put a full face of makeup on. Some of these girls put on red lipstick before they go out and kick someone’s butt... It’s a sport that really personifies that struggle and that feminine duality very well.

TiLLT: In terms of “classic” female characteristics and identifications, how have you found it to be a “non-traditional” female?

S.C:  I was unaware for a long time that there even was a path. Usually other people realize that you’re different before you do so generally, it is on the part of society to tell you that you aren’t a part of it. It’s always harder to put something together when you don’t have a handbook.  Other people realize that you’re different when I was little I just wanted to do great things. I was way more focused on doing something important then about anything else. I think that was the ‘thing’ that made me different or seem different. I just wasn't concerned with the things other people were. Now, working as a carpenter, I get to meet a lot of knew people who come into the shop.  Someone always feels the need to point out that I’m is the only female in the shop and I often hear comments such as “oh wow that girl is strong” from men who often don’t mean to be insulting, but it can still be hard to hear all of the time.

One time, I was driving a truck returning some set pieces and I had to back down a long driveway and suddenly I turn my head to the left and there was a man standing in my window and he said ‘Are you going to be able to back this truck up? Do you want me to do it for you?’ I always find this sort of thing shocking because someone has clearly hired me to drive this truck and that clearly shows I am capable, yet the assumption is that I need help, well intended or not, it insinuates that I cannot do my job and I think that if I were male it would be automatically assumed that I could do the job that someone hired me to do. So maybe it’s well intended, maybe it’s not, I think it’s irrelevant whether it is or not. The man proceeded to walk to the top of the hill and watch me back up the entire hill. 

TiLLT: Is there anything you really want people to hear from you?

S.C: If the material doesn’t suit you. Create your own. The world will be a better place if we all express our truths.  Create the creation. We can all be creators day-to-day, in art, or in the office. You can create a reality that will better the world. If you don’t think you can, you’re wrong. Every person has a power that they can’t imagine and it can make a difference by creating, whatever that means.